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feeling poorly

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Feeling Poorly started out as a piece that explored the sensory external old fashioned medicinal products that are used to cure common aliments and illnesses, as well as the experience of being ill. The smell of the smothered Vicks, talc, calamine, iodine and cough syrup was intensified by the fact that the performance space was always small (usually a 2m X 4m blanketed camp) and it was dark being lit only by a single dim light bulb and light form the medical cabinet.

In October 2003, as part of the artists' pages in the Performance Research Journal On Smell issue, images based on Feeling Poorly will be published. Entitled What Remains, these images use pills, ointments, lotions and powders as well as the night dress from the performance, restaged for a series made on a computer scanner.

Having decided that the piece needed a collaborator I worked with Katrina Horne who trained both as a nurse and a visual artist and was instrumental in creating the installation and in performing as the carer. When Katrina moved to the states this role was then taken by Catherine Large, also a visual artist, writer and performer.

A sound track was made by Daniel Belasco Rogers which represented the experience of being in one's own head and the constant reminder of external sounds such as the ticking of clocks and abstract rumblings of distant noises. He was also instrumental in finding practical solutions to the realisation of the installation.

The piece was only ever for one spectator at a time which allowed a personal response and investigation of the space. This meant that the piece was usually performed for at least 4 hours at a stretch with a sense that the performers had always been there and always will. Their relationship swung from affection and care, to neglect and abuse as was never set but rather affected by the state of the performer and reactions of spectators (no direct contact with the spectators was ever made). The piece was commissioned by Arnolfini Breathing Space and Chapter Arts New Work, and toured as part of the Breathing Space tour to the NOW Festival in Nottingham, the X-trax festival in Manchester and the InBetween Festival in Bristol. It was also shown as part of the Site Gallery Live Art Festival in Sheffield and at Toynbee Hall in London.